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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Stopping By the Norwichtown Mall on a Snowy Sunday

Yes, I know. Lawyers for the estate of Robert Frost are on line two and want to talk about infringement-tell them they can talk to the hand.

Driving through Norwich this morning, the light on Washington and the intersection of Broadway is a flashing signal, with Washington having yellow and Broadway having red-just in case the clown in the Volvo station wagon is wondering if I mention this because of you, I do.

Continuing down the street, where Lafayette intersects with Washington (the ironies for historians of both nations must be almost too much to bear) at the Backus Hospital corner, that light is also a flashing light with those coming from Lafayette having to stop and the third light, where Washington intersects with Harland Road and Route 2 is all flashing red in all directions.

Having noted all of this, it's a puzzlement to me (thanks Yul! Your lawyers are probably on line one even as I'm typing) why the light on Washington and the intersection with the entrance to what's left of the Norwichtown Mall is working as a regular streetlight.
As you can imagine, though I really can't, there was a crush of cars and trucks this morning at the entrance. It's a good thing we had a working traffic signal or we may have well had chaos, chaos! I tell you, and that would mean the terrorists would win. (I've been advised by the Department of Homeland Security that I have a 'or the terrorists will win' deficit on this blog that has caused some eyebrows to be raised by those not currently being waterboarded. Hope this double dose keeps me from getting fitted for an orange jumpsuit.)

And what exactly are those who are so troubled by the means of interrogation used by those whom we have charged and chartered to defend us supposed to be about? Perhaps more tickling and less waterboarding? Maybe a few more 'c'mon, you can tell me' and a few less sleep-deprivation confessionals? I'm not sure we all even agree on the nature of the calamity that is befalling us in terms of those against whom we struggle. These are not reasonable people with whom one can reach an accommodation. We need to take them at their word when they vow to destroy us, our children and our children's children as well as everything we stand for. This isn't a situation 'where lawyers clean up all details.'
Tell Frost and Brynner, I have history on line three, for ALL of us.
-bill kenny

2 comments:

Rabbi Arian said...

Bill:

Regarding traffic lights around here, I'd simply be happy for more people to consider them mandatory rather than optional. Yellow means slow down, not "hit the gas." It is extremely rare to see a light change at the intersection of New London Turnpike and Salem Turnpike without at least one car going through the red light.

Regarding torture, a few thoughts:

1.) I believe in due process. Some of the recipients of torture may be guilty of nothing more than being brown-skinned in the wrong place at the wrong time. Torturing such a person cannot yield any useful information because they have none to give.

2.) Israel knows a thing or two about this stuff and to my knowledge most Israeli intelligence people do not believe it even works. The torturee tells you what you want to hear, not necessarily what is true.

3.) We've prosecuted people from other countries in the past for waterboarding. Kind of makes us look hypocritical to do it ourselves now.

4.) There are some things you just don't do because it makes you less than human. I might suspend this principle if it would save many lives, but see 2.) above.

dweeb said...

Rabbi,
I agree whole-heartedly that there is a casual contempt in which the traffic signal at the intersection of NL and Salem turnpike is held.
When I 'have' the light, I count to 'four Mississippi' BEFORE venturing through the intersection.

Your concern about torture underscores the moral danger we all face. At what point do we become the very thing against which we are fighting?

If we are willing to trade constitutionally guaranteed (human) rights for vague assurances of more security (can you say 'Patriot Act'? I knew you could) we may find ourselves with less freedom AND less security.

'Fear of the other who is different' is a powerful instinct, overwhelming our humanitarian and charitable impulses.

Historically, humans have had a difficult time treating people other than ourselves with the same dignity and courtesy (Pogroms and persecution have been part of the history of nations since the beginnings of history).

What can we do to counter this?

What we do now: discuss, perhaps disagree but always dialogue and sort through and work towards consensus and make progress.
Admittedly, Rome wasn't built in a day, but next year, Jerusalem-perhaps. At least progress towards that ideal.

The thoughts often attributed to
Pastor Martin Niemöller may serve as a cautionary tale for us today as they should have done for so many, so long ago.

We risk becoming the people we hate because we hate them.
Love may be all we need but a little more tolerance may be a greater good) (but harder to achieve). -bill kenny